Many thousands of Scots are feeling the financial squeeze and have found themselves with growing money worries this year.
The charity organisation Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has been assessing its own figures for the past year and established that money and debt-related issues are increasingly causing problems for households across the country.
No less than 100,000 pieces of debt advice were handed out by representatives of the Scottish charity over the course of the year 2018/19, while some 13,000 referrals to food banks were also made by the organisation during that period.
An increasingly prominent source of financial difficulty for many thousands of Scots is the Universal Credit benefit system, which is being rolled out in various parts of the country.
According to CAS, the number of people contacting its support teams with queries about Universal Credit more than doubled last year compared to 2017/18.
On the positive side, the charity has been able to help hundreds of thousands of people access financial support and benefits that they might otherwise have been unaware they were entitled to.
In fact, CAS says that in the last year it helped ensure that more than £130 million was accessed as financial gains by people with money problems living in Scotland.
“Last year we unlocked financial gains of £131million for people in Scotland – that gives you an idea of the scale of what people are missing out on if they don’t turn to us for advice and support,” said CAS’ chief executive Derek Mitchell.
Mr Mitchell added that whoever forms the next UK government, they should have a focus on “boosting people’s incomes” to levels that make it easier for them to avoid serious debt and more general financial problems.
“From issues such as debt and social security to energy we are seeing people struggle with the cost of living,” he said.
“We’re an independent and impartial charity but the data from our state of the nation report makes clear that the next UK government simply must have living standards at the heart of its agenda.”
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The emergency £20 increase to Universal Credit payments introduced in response to the Covid pandemic could be taken away from prospective recipients from April next year.
Scotland is to become the first nation in the world to provide period products entirely free of charge to all its citizens who need them.
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